Cooking menu for a festive weekend

Holidays, and winter in general, for someone like me, who has struggled with the disorder of cooking and eating most of his life, has always been an impulse, a sweet and sour treat, full of ideals wrapped in red ribbons, panettone and glitter, and a truth that doesn’t always fit in.

Winter, for me, is synonymous with bread, with warmth and rich dishes, with leafy and creamy soups, polenta, biscuits and butter cakes, pancakes, caramelized nuts, and warm pastries for breakfast to brighten up a misty day, or make it more magical. Snowy one.

“Is it worth the calories?” I ask myself, echoing Prue Leith, after every episode of The Great British Bakeoff.

Even today, as I am on the journey of recovery, being a chef, and loving food, the joy of cooking doesn’t always come naturally to me. In fact, there are times when I don’t think twice about a plate, and others; However, when I count the calories in flour and butter, or in dessert at a restaurant. I learned progress, not perfection.

So, since I started putting together my next cookbook, Eat Again (released in February 2022 with Heliotrope Books), I’ve worked to create fun, healthy meals and recipes all at once. It turns out to be something that works wonders for both my career as a chef and cookbook author, and my mental and physical health as a woman and a mother who wants to protect and protect her young daughter from the agony of the past.

My job, making healthy indulgence the new black, seems to have been working charmingly on my Instagram community as well. And with pure joy, I read their stories after trying the recipes we make together, live, every Monday, on Instagram, at 5:00 PM PT (@alicecarbonetech).

So here’s my healthy and fun cooking list for a festive weekend getaway, a romantic dinner, or a birthday celebration:

Let’s start with the appetizer, Italian chicory panzrottiI eat fried dough traditionally stuffed with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, typical of the Puglia region, where my father belongs. Oh, how I still remember those rich bites from 1989, on a hot summer night in Bari, where my dad’s aunt, Maria, used to live.

You might be thinking, “Deep frying is not healthy.”

And you’re correct, that’s why I fry the dough instead of dipping it in hot oil. She replaced the cheese with another traditional Apulian ingredient, dandelion. There’s just something irresistible about salty, slightly fried dough and bitter greens.

This dish will be interesting to the crowd, and even the little ones will ask for more. My 4-year-old daughter did, at least. Yes, I ate dandelions, and I even put one in her lunchbox.

Would you believe me if I told you that in the first bite of Vegan Panzerotti you would fly to Italy with your imagination, first class?

The main course won’t disappoint: a traditional baked pasta (forno pasta) made with tomato sauce and the addition of fennel seeds, peas and squash, as well as dessert, another healthy wintertime game: a (vegan) buttermilk English muffin with cranberries, white chocolate, and orange zest.

It takes a long time, but I’m slowly becoming comfortable with a new concept of self-care, indulgence, and ease of cooking. And sharing it, for me, is part of the journey, a journey that makes me hungry for more and fit for every new challenge.

Italian dandelion panzerotti

Ingredients for 8-9 Panzerote:

To prepare the dough:

  • 300 grams all-purpose flour
  • 200 ml water at room temperature
  • 10 grams sea salt

to fill:

  • 2 bunches of Italian chicory
  • 1 garlic clove (whole)
  • 1 cup olives (Tagiasca or Mediterranean olives are best, full of flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons grave in vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste
  • Salt flakes to taste

instructions:

  • Cut the ends of the dandelion, rinse well and soak in boiling unsalted water for 5 minutes. This will rid them of some of their bitterness. I always boil it in unsalted water because I like to drink the water after the greens have dried. As my mom and grandmother always reminded me, in fact, water is rich in vitamins and a detoxifier. And it tastes great!
  • Drain the vegetables and set aside.
  • Stir in olives and fry in extra virgin olive oil with garlic and capers for a few minutes in a large non-stick skillet.
  • With kitchen shears, chop the long-leaved chicory, then add to the olives and capers. Salt to taste and cook for 5-10 minutes. Peel the garlic and set aside.
  • Bring the dough into a mixing bowl by combining the flour, water and salt. Form a ball and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 8-9 portions.
  • On a floured surface, roll the first part of the dough (it should be very elastic) until very fluffy and translucent (as if you were making a pancake). Now grease the thin paper with extra-virgin olive oil and add a spoonful of the dandelion filling. Roll the dough tightly, and roll it gently. Repeat with the remaining 7-8 parts.
  • In the same skillet you used to cook the chicory, add some extra-virgin olive oil, and cook the panzorotti until golden brown on each side, using kitchen tongues.
  • Remove from heat and salt with salt flakes. Her feet are warm.
  • These are also great the next day, simply heated in a toaster oven, but not in the microwave.

Baked Italian pasta (Pasta al Forno) with fennel seeds, pumpkin and green peas

Winter 2021: Into the corner of decadence and health

Ingredients for 6 people:

  • 500g of your favorite short pasta
  • 2 cups homemade tomato sauce (I make it using high quality mashed tomatoes, olive oil, basil, salt and a pinch of sugar and cook slowly for 2-3 hours. The more you cook the tomato sauce, the better it will taste and the more tomatoes will lose their acidity .)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 cup cubed squash (cook the cubes in the oven with olive oil and salt for 45-60 minutes at 400 F)
  • 1 cup canned organic peas
  • 1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons oat milk (optional)
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (or vegan Parmesan cheese), grated
  • Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
  • Chili flakes (optional)

instructions:

  • Make tomato sauce (or use store-bought). You can do this early. I usually make a big batch and freeze it.
  • Cook the butternut squash (it can also be made in advance, and these two vegetables can easily be substituted for green beans).
  • Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit.
  • Grate Parmesan cheese (vegetarian or dairy)
  • Cook the pasta in salted boiling water.
  • Take a large baking tray, add 3-4 tablespoons of tomato sauce and spread it
  • Drain the pasta and pour into a baking dish, add more tomato sauce until desired richness, add squash, peas (drained and washed), fennel seeds and grated mozzarella (or your favorite vegan cheese). Add a little oat milk to prevent over drying, salt to taste and top with a generous amount of grated Parmigiano.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then grill for two minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  • This will make big leftovers, can be frozen, and remember: it’s all about how good the tomato sauce tastes.

Vegan yoghurt cakes with cranberry, orange and white chocolate

Winter 2021: Into the corner of decadence and health

ingredients:

  • 500 grams all-purpose flour
  • 300 ml almond milk
  • 75 g vegan butter (frozen or very cold)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • cup frozen cranberries
  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar + 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
  • 3 oranges (flavor)
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • white chocolate chip cup
  • 1 egg (or vegan option) for egg wash
  • Cinnamon to taste, ginger and cloves to taste (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla paste

instructions:

  • The first step is to make vegan yogurt by adding lemon juice into the almond milk and stirring. Let it curdle for 10-15 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients, orange peel and white chocolate chips
  • After 15 minutes have passed, add the vanilla paste to the vegetable milk
  • Remove the vegetable butter from the freezer and cut it into small cubes. Then add to the dry ingredients.
  • Take the frozen cranberries out of the fridge and sprinkle some flour on them, then add them to the dry mixture with the vegetable butter.
  • Crumble the butter and mix with your fingertips until small crumbs form, then add the vegetable milk at the end. Mix with your hands, but do not overdo the dough.
  • Once the curd is absorbed, transfer the dough to a floured surface, knead it gently, and roll it out about 2 inches thick.
  • Start cutting out 2 inch cakes (this will make 15 to 16)
  • Arrange the scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush with the egg mixture, sprinkle some brown sugar on each one, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 425°F. They are lightweight when cooked due to the cranberry and white chocolate in it.
  • Let it cool on the rack before serving.
  • You can freeze and thaw it overnight.

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